Italian Turkey Meatball Soup

Does anyone else really struggle with the mini-season that occurs between fall and winter? You know, when we’ll have a beautiful 75° day… followed by a day full of freezing rain and snow? (For those of you that live in areas of the country where the transition from fall to winter means you stop wearing tank tops and start bundling up in short-sleeve t-shirts? Those of us from the northern half of the country hate you. Nothing personal.) That stretch of weeks (or months) depresses me more than winter itself, but it does have one redeeming quality: it’s perfect weather for soup!

Italian Turkey Meatball Soup

I was making a batch of these tomato balsamic meatballs last week, and it occurred to me that they’d be delicious if I made them mini, and put them into soup… and the perfect addition to meatballs is pasta (and tomatoes, and parmesan cheese), so this recipe basically wrote itself. It was AWESOME as a big, warm lunch this weekend – when it was grey and windy outside, with a “wintry mix” falling. Unfortunately, this week’s forecast will give us plenty more opportunities to want to cozy up with a nice bowl of soup…

Italian Turkey Meatball Soup
serves 4-6 as a meal, 8-10 as a starter

For the meatballs:
1 pound ground turkey (I prefer 93/7)
1 egg
2 T heavy cream
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup grated parmesan
3 cloves garlic, grated
3 T minced fresh parsley
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 – 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
olive oil

Italian Turkey Meatball Soup

For the soup:
1 batch of meatballs
3 medium carrots, diced
1 large sweet onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
28oz can of petite diced tomatoes
6 cups chicken stock
8oz small pasta
one 3″ parmesan cheese rind*
grated parmesan for garnish
minced parsley for garnish

Italian Turkey Meatball Soup

*If I haven’t mentioned it before, you should be saving the rinds from your parmesan cheese. Throw them in a ziploc bag, keep them in the freezer, and use them when you’re making soups like this – a parmesan rind will add add a nice nutty, salty richness to the soup. If you don’t have one on hand already, just cut it off a fresh block of parmesan cheese.

1.) Start by making your meatballs. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, heavy cream, tomato paste, parmesan, grated garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. Add the ground turkey, and use your hands to combine everything well (without over-mixing). Starting with 1/4 cup, add the breadcrumbs to the meatball mixture; mix the breadcrumbs in, and add more, a bit at a time, if the mixture still seems too wet.

2.) Roll the meat mixture into small balls – about 3/4″ across. You should get about 50 meatballs from the mixture.

Italian Turkey Meatball Soup

3.) Heat a large pot over medium heat, and add about a tablespoon and a half of olive oil to the pot. Add a layer of meatballs to the pot (don’t crowd the pan, you can brown them in batches), and let them brown for a couple minutes; flip them once, and allow them to brown on the other side. You’re not trying to cook them through, just to sear them, so once they’ve browned, remove them to a paper towel-lined plate, and brown the next batch.

Italian Turkey Meatball Soup

4.) While you brown the meatballs, cook your pasta until al dente, and set aside.

5.) Once all your meatballs are browned, add the diced onions and carrots to the hot pot. Cook until the vegetables are beginning to soften, 3-4 minutes. Season with the salt and pepper, and add the garlic and red pepper flakes.

6.) Add the diced tomatoes, chicken stock, and parmesan rind to the pot. Increase the heat, and let the soup come to a boil; immediately reduce it to a simmer. Add the meatballs to the soup, and allow it to simmer for about 15 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through and warm.

7.) Spoon a small portion of pasta into each bowl, and then ladle the soup over it. Garnish with freshly grated parmesan and parsley, and serve immediately.

Italian Turkey Meatball Soup

Somewhat surprisingly, this soup is super light. Filling, comforting, warm – but not heavy in the least. The turkey meatballs are moist and flavorful, and there’s just enough pasta to make it feel carb-y. A blanket of freshly grated parmesan cheese perfectly completes it.

If I have to break out the uggs and puffer coat, at least I have soup,
Tina

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Lamb Burgers with Tzatziki, Tomatoes, and Feta

If you think you don’t like lamb, I strongly encourage you to try these burgers. As you’re all well aware, I am not the BIGGEST carnivore around – I don’t particularly enjoy the flavor of meat by itself (you’ll never find me diving into a giant steak), so if I am endorsing a meat-based dish, you know it’s good. Lamb can be very, very game-y, and it takes a little bit of work to amp up the surrounding flavors in the dish to mellow out that game-y flavor… and these burgers are just a perfect mix of rich lamb, fresh vegetables and herbs, and cool, creamy tzatziki.

Lamb Burgers with Tzatziki, Tomatoes, and Feta

Lamb Burgers with Tzatziki, Tomatoes, and Feta
serves 4-6

For the burgers:
1 lb ground lamb
3-4 large mint leaves, minced
2 tsp minced fresh dill
1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 cloves garlic, grated
1/2 a shallot, minced
2 tsp worcestershire sauce
2 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
4 oz crumbled feta
1/2 T olive oil
1/2 T butter
tzatziki (recipe below)
pickled red onions (recipe below)
small hamburger buns, or bread of choice*

For the tzatziki:
1 cup 2% or full fat greek yogurt
2 persian cucumbers (or half an English cucumber)
2 cloves garlic, grated
12 mint leaves, minced
1 T minced dill
juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper

For the onions:
1 large red onion, sliced into 1/4″ thick half moons
1 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 T sugar
2 t kosher salt

Lamb Burgers with Tzatziki, Tomatoes, and Feta

*I used some mini ciabatta rolls for these burgers (the kind you buy at Trader Joe’s, that are par-baked), and I thought they were PERFECT. You want a bun that is a little more rigid and crusty than a typical hamburger bun, since these are kind of sloppy burgers – that tougher exterior prevents everything from getting soggy and falling apart.

1.) Start by making your pickled onions. Add the water, vinegar, sugar, and salt to a small saucepan, and set over medium heat. Heat the mixture until it’s just about to simmer, and all the sugar and salt have dissolved.

Pickled Red Onions

2.) Meanwhile, put your onions into a jar, or other glass container. Pour the hot pickling liquid over top of the onions, until they’re completely covered. Allow them to sit for at least 30 minutes before using. If you’re not using them right away, allow them to cool for about an hour, then seal the jar and place it in the fridge until you’re ready to use them.

3.) While the onions pickle, make your tzatziki. Cut the cucumbers in half length-wise, and use a spoon to scrape out the seeds (even the “seedless” Persian or English cucumbers have some little, watery seeds, and I prefer to get rid of them to keep the tzatziki from getting too watery). Dice the cucumbers into a 1/4″ dice.

4.) In a mixing bowl, combine the Greek yogurt, diced cucumbers, mint, dill, grated garlic, lemon juice, and a large pinch each of kosher salt and pepper. Mix everything well, and set aside.

5.) Now, the burgers! In a large bowl, mix everything from the mint to the black pepper together. Add the ground lamb, and use your hands to work everything else into the meat, being careful not to over mix! Divide the lamb mixture into 6 equal portions, and shape them into patties.

Lamb Burgers with Tzatziki, Tomatoes, and Feta

6.) Heat a large skillet (or griddle) over medium heat, and add the butter and olive oil to the pan. Once it’s good and hot, add your burgers – be sure not to crowd them, and cook them in two batches if needed. Cook for about 5 minutes on the first side, and 3-4 minutes on the second side (if you opted to make fewer than 6 patties from the mixture, you’ll want to bump up the cook time a bit).

Lamb Burgers with Tzatziki, Tomatoes, and Feta

7.) While the burgers cook, toast your buns if you’d like. In another small bowl, mix the quartered cherry tomatoes and feta with a pinch of black pepper.

8.) Prepare to assemble your burgers. Personally, I HATE when my toppings are falling out all over the place – so, I tried a little trick with these burgers that I will definitely use again. Before toasting my buns, I pulled the excess bread out of the bottom half of the bun. This created a little little space to stuff my cherry tomato mixture, and greatly reduced the instance of escaped burger garnish. Your mileage may vary, but I suggest giving it a try.

9.) When the lamb burgers are cooked, it’s assembly time. Start with the bottom bun, and stuff the hollowed out space with the tomato and feta mixture. Top that with a burger, then a big spoonful of tzatziki, and then a little pile of pickled onions. On goes the top bun, and you’re ready to eat!

Lamb Burgers with Tzatziki, Tomatoes, and Feta

Now, you may be thinking – who the hell eats a 2.5oz burger?! Is this some sort of hipster “tiny food is so cute!” concoction? And to that, I say – TRUST ME. These burgers are RICH. Like, really, really rich. I thoroughly enjoyed every single bite of my burger, and I was totally content and full for many, many hours afterward. My personal opinion is that a regular-sized lamb burger (by which I mean 4-6 oz – I am not into the 12 ounce monster burgers some seem to favor) would be overwhelmingly rich, and leave you feeling like you have a rock in your stomach for the rest of the day.

Anyways, these burgers are insanely good. The lamb is definitely rich – but the acidic bite of the pickled onions and the tang from the tzatziki cut through the richness and balance it nicely. Add some salty feta and chewy ciabatta, and I might just slip into a food coma even TALKING about it.

Seriously, there is no need for a burger the size of a chevy,
Tina

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(P.S. Don’t you DARE throw out those extra pickled onions. Put them on EVERYTHING until they’re gone: sandwiches, salads, breakfast burritos, nachos… those things are culinary gold. I’d stop short of adding them to a bowl of ice cream… but don’t think I haven’t considered it.)

Holiday Recipe Roundup!

Well, friends, the holiday season is upon us! And by “holiday season”, you know I really mean “eating season” – so, put on some elastic-waist pants, grab a big blanket to wrap yourself up with, and let’s get to work making your Thanksgiving menu, shall we?

After more than two years of posting recipes to the blog, we’ve got QUITE the collection of dishes to round out your holiday meal. You won’t find much in the way of sweet potatoes topped with mini marshmallows, or how to prep and roast a giant turkey (I’m more of a ham girl, myself), but you WILL find plenty of delicious recipes that will add something new and fun to your meal (when all else fails? Sprinkle your dish with pomegranate seeds! Festive!). I’ve broken this (gigantic) list down into several categories: Salads, Sides, and Desserts. A good amount of them are quick and easy to make, most will impress the hell out of your friends and family, and ALL of them are delicious. Feel free to send me the leftovers of any of the following:

Salads:

Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad with Pomegranate and Fried Goat Cheese

Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad with Pomegranate and Fried Goat Cheese

Lemony Kale Salad with Dried Cranberries and Pepitas

strawberry spinach salad with poppyseed onion dressing

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Poppy Seed Vidalia Dressing

Beet Salad with Honey Goat Cheese Vinaigrette

Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Honey Dijon Vinaigrette

Honey Goat Cheese Salad Dressing

Ina’s Ranch Dressing

Side Dishes:

Honey Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Pistachios and Dried Cranberries

Honey Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pistachios and Dried Cranberries

Maple Mustard Brussels Sprouts

Honey Balsamic Carrots

Spicy Corn with Feta and Lime

Spicy Corn with Feta and Lime

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Smoky Parmesan Roasted Potatoes

Mustard Roasted Potatoes

balsamic roasted potatoes.

Balsamic Roasted Potatoes

Sweet Potato, Pecan, and Dried Cherry Salad

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Chutney Vinaigrette

Cauliflower Fritters with Smoked Greek Yogurt and Pomegranate Seeds

Cauliflower Fritters with Smoked Greek Yogurt and Pomegranate Seeds

Cauliflower Gratin with Gruyere and Parmesan

Green Beans with Whole Grain Mustard Vinaigrette

Bacon Wrapped Green Bean Bundles

Green Beans with Orange, Goat Cheese, and Pomegranate Seeds

Green Beans with Orange, Goat Cheese, and Pomegranate Seeds

Bacon Creamed Corn

Beer and Chile Macaroni and Cheese

Four Cheese Baked Macaroni

Four Cheese Baked Macaroni

Desserts:

Classic Pecan Pie

Pecan Pie

Cider Mill Donut Bread Pudding

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling

Classic Cheesecake with a Gingersnap Crust

Nutella Rugelach

Ginger Pear Hand Pies

Ginger Pear Hand Pies (you could absolutely use apples instead of pears, if you wanted to!)

Devil’s Food Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream

Finished cakes, with a slightly prettier caramel drizzle.

Finished cakes, with a slightly prettier caramel drizzle.

Mini Salted Caramel Icebox Cakes

Chocolate Cakes with Cream Cheese Filling

Coconut Cream Pie

Brownie Sandwiches with Salted Caramel Buttercream

Chocolate Pots de Creme

no-bake nutella cheesecakes.

No-Bake Nutella Cheesecakes

I am going to TRY to get a couple more Thanksgiving (or Thanksgivukkah, or other holiday) worthy recipes up on the blog over the weekend/early next week… but I can’t promise anything, as I might find myself too busy “taste testing” the desserts I’m making for all our Thanksgiving gatherings to get to the computer. I mean, do you think someone ELSE is going to test the Pumpkin Whoopie Pies to make sure they’re not poisonous?? No ma’am, it’s all on my shoulders. It’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it.

I hope you’ve found something that looks delicious enough to add to your holiday meal, and I hope your holiday weekend is filled with tasty feasts, and stretchy waistbands.

Bring on the pecan pie and mashed potatoes,
Tina

Creamy Artichoke and Jalapeño Dip

I love to have some quick and easy appetizer ideas to keep in my back pocket – ideally, recipes that use things I typically have in my fridge or pantry, so that they’re easy to throw together at the last minute without a trip to the grocery store. This dip is just that – it takes less than 5 minutes to put together, it’s full of ingredients I almost always have in the house, and is customizable to accommodate for whatever you might be missing!

Creamy Artichoke and Jalapeño Dip

Creamy Artichoke and Jalapeño Dip
adapted pretty liberally from here
makes about 2 cups

1 can of artichoke hearts, packed in water
1 large jalapeño, seeded and roughly chopped
6-8 pickled jalapeño rings
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1-2 cloves of garlic
4 oz cream cheese
2 T mayonnaise
a splash of the jalapeño pickle water
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Creamy Artichoke and Jalapeño Dip

Toss everything into the bowl of a food processor; pulse until everything is well-combined, but still a bit chunky. (You can taste test it and check the spice level at this point; I found this amount of jalapeño had just an edge of spice, so you can certainly add more pickled and/or fresh jalapeños if you want it to be hotter.)

Creamy Artichoke and Jalapeño Dip

You can go ahead and serve the dip immediately, or cover it and keep it in the fridge until you’re ready for it. We’ve eaten it with pretzel chips, but it would certainly go well with any kind of cracker or chip you have in the house (wheat thins, ritz crackers, pita chips, ruffled potato chips, etc). I’m already dreaming up different ways to use it – as a sandwich spread, combined with some monterey jack in a grilled cheese, as the “sauce” on a white pizza. I’m gonna need to make some more pretty quick, I think.

Did you ever think you’d see me post a recipe with only one step?
Tina